I-85 closure increases traffic in front of Westchester Elementary
Traffic along Scott Boulevard has been a running concern for Westchester Elementary parents almost from the time the school reopened in 2014.
Parents rallied and got the School Board to support additional safety improvements, like reducing the speed limit along the busy road. There’s now a trail linking City Schools of Decatur-owned property on Westchester Drive to the school so children don’t have to walk along Scott Boulevard.
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But the recent collapse of a section of I-85 in Atlanta due to a large fire means parents at the school will be dealing with new traffic headaches along the road through the end of the school year. CSD returned from Spring Break on Monday.
Kimberly Head-Amos, a PTA member and member of the school’s safety committee, said traffic has definitely increased on the road as commuters look for new routes into Atlanta.
“I’ve noticed increased traffic in both directions on Scott,” she said. “It’s hard for families who do drive and who are going to be making a left into the parking lot. The traffic is so backed up it takes a long time to turn into the school.”
Kelly Brooks, another PTA member, walks with her children to school and has also noticed the difference in traffic volume.
“Yeah, I think there is a lot more traffic,” she said. “We can even see it when we walk down Scott Boulevard walking to school. There’s so much more volume. Taking that left into Scott is harder than it used to be.”
School Principal Rochelle Lofstrand sent an email to parents Monday morning urging patience.
“I wanted to let you know that there definitely is a huge increase in the number of cars on Scott Boulevard in the morning,” she said. “As Atlanta tries to acclimate to a ‘new normal’ since Interstate 85 has closed, many commuters are using Scott as a way to access Clairemont, 285, North Decatur, and North Druid Hills.
“What this means for Westchester parents is if you choose to drive to school in the morning and turn left from Scott into the parking lot, you will be faced with a large line of cars waiting to turn left onto Clairemont.”
She recommended parents arrive at school earlier, find ways to enter the school parking lot from the right-hand side of the road instead of the left, and walk or take the bus to school. She also invited students to participate in breakfast at the school if they’re showing up earlier than normal.
Head-Amos said parents are currently seeking ways to extend the school zone because the school’s two crossings are actually just outside of the current zone. She also said there will probably always be a conflict between the school and the busy road even as parents work to make things safer for students.
“It’s a major road getting people in and out of town,” she said. “There’s a limit to how slow it’s ever going to be.”